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approaching: “So let it,” cries the devoted servant of God;
“the sooner it comes the better. The God whom I have served, is able to deliver me; and he will deliver me from thy sting, O death, and from all the power of the grave. Many years ago, I said to the Lord, Thou art niy Lord, and he honoured me with a place among his servants ; and now I feel thee, blessed Saviour, to be the strength of my heart; and I depend upon thee as my portion for ever. Into thine hand I commit my spirit; for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”
If these things be true, happy is that people that is in such a case ; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord. For whether we live, we live to the Lord ; and whether we die, we die to the Lord : whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. While
you have been hearing this discourse, you have perhaps applauded the conduct of David; and think those happiest, who have joined themselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant. But this is not enough. I cannot be satisfied with your good opinion or approbation of others ; my business is immediately with you. I appear here, sabbath after sabbath, to inquire into the state of your souls; and to give you my best advice and assistance respecting yourspiritual concerns. I cannot, therefore, quit this interesting subject, without a particular inquiry, whether you have said to the Lord, “ Thou art my Lord.” I now then put the question round, and, as an ambassador of God, solemnly ask, if you have ever given your ownselves to the Lord ? I inquire not, what others have done for you; but whether you have devoted yourselves to God? I ask not, what you have pronounced
with your lips, or what you have subscribed with your hands, or what you have publicly professed before me; but whether you have secretly, seriously, and
, sincerely, said to the Lord, “ Thou art my Lord.” This is a very plain question ; and I believe that there are very few in this assembly who would feel it difficult to give me an answer. If I thought that any were doubtful about it, I would propose the following inquiries.
Have you ever been deeply sensible of your distance from God, and cried, “O wretched man, that I am, who shall deliver me?" Such a conviction of sin and misery is necessary to our obtaining the favour of God through Christ.
" He looketh upon men ; and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profiteth me not; he will deliver his soul from going down into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” There is no covenanting with God, without feeling our guilt: nor shall we sincerely and truly say, “ Thou art my Lord,” if we have never said, “ God be merciful to me a sinner.”
I ask again, did you ever set apart some time for this purpose ? Slight intentions, or transient ejaculations, in the midst of other business, are not sufficient for a concern of eternal importance. Have you then any such times upon record ? Or can you recollect any such solemn transactions with God? Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
I may now hope that you have examined yourselves, and have been enabled to come to a decision. I presume that among us, there are some who have never seriously said any thing to their souls, or to the Lord,
But I hope that others, who once made a hasty profession of love and duty, but quickly revoked and forgot it, have sincerely and solemnly bound themselves to the Lord, in a covenant that shall not be forgotten. Characters so different require a different address.
Some of you have lived all your days in a hurry of business, or thoughtless dissipation ; without ever thinking that
you had a God to be served, or a soul to be saved. To this hour you have never communed with your hearts, or inquired, “Where is God my maker :?” But in what manner shall I address you ? for what can be expected from any expostulations of mine, when you have so long resisted the thunders of his word, and the rebukes of his providence? My soul is rather disposed to weep in secret places on account of your sin and misery. Notwithstanding all your attempts to conceal it, you must surely be miserable. To know that there is a God, and such a God, so great, and so good, so wise, so powerful, so gracious, and yet to have no interest in him, no acquaintance with him, no access to him, must be wretched indeed. To be afraid even to think of God; to be often in trouble, and yet not be able to approach him ; to fear to be alone, lest the thoughts of another world should rush in, and awaken your consciences; to be obliged, for form's sake, to attend on public worship, while you hate the services, and are all the
, while labouring to think of something else, must be a truly pitiable condition. To be often sick, and sometimes in danger, and yet feel no comfort, but from the flattering hope of being soon well again ; to be taken off from the pursuit and enjoyment of the
world, while you are total strangers to the pleasures of religion; to find yourselves deceived with the assurances of life, by the sudden appearance of death, and yet in that life only to have any hope ; to be summoned to appear before God, the Judge of all, while that God and Judge is your enemy! O
O my friends, why will you run the dreadful hazard? Why will you continue a day longer estranged from him, who with a condescension peculiar to himself, solicits and entreats your friendship? Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, and thereby good shall come unto thee.” Put not off a matter of such consequence to an uncertain period. You may cry “ Lord, Lord,” when it is too late. He has sent me now to tell you, that if you will accept of him, he will be your God; and will you not accept of him? Are you really determined to live and die without him? “Die without God!" You start, and cry, “No, we would not, for the world, die without God. But, surely, we may safely live a little longer without him. We are happy in the pursuit of our business and our amusements at present; and when we become old or sickly, we intend to give ourselves to the Lord.” You do, indeed! But what, if then God will not accept you? See if you can find any encouragement in this awful passage ; “Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretchedout my hand, and no man regarded ; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.”
I leave those affecting words with you, while I go on to address those who have solemnly “avouched the Lord to be their God.” Such characters, I believe,
" are to be found among you, and I sincerely hope that
their number is increasing ; and most cordially do I congratulate them on their change of masters, and would offer the following hints for their direction and encouragement.
In the first place, “ Cleave to God with purpose of heart.”
Among men it is common enough for a servant to bind himself for so many years ; and when that time is expired, he is at liberty to hire himself to another master. But it is not so with the servants of the Lord. Those who will serve him at all, must serve him always. The tenor of their bond runs invariably thus :
“I, such an one, whose name is bereunto subscribed, do hereby renounce all other masters which have had dominion over me ; and bind myself to the Lord, to serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life: So help me God.”
Such a bond you entered into, when you said to the Lord, “ Thou art my Lord; and if you have loved or feared God, you will never attempt nor wish to relinquish his service. Instead of hoping to be discharged, you will earnestly desire a nearer and an everlasting connexion. It will be your delight (I was almost going to say, your pride) to consider yourselves as the Lord's; and if at any time tempted with the offer of greater liberty, you will reject it with contempt. There is indeed such aggravated guilt in quitting the service of God, that, if you had bis fear before your eyes, you would tremble to do it. How could you bear to be reproached before God and men, as the vilest hypocrites, for pretending kindness, and then, upon the first opportunity, forgetting all your promises and pretensions ? What blacker